Well-being is critical for cows, they need to be supplied with competitively-priced feed and water and be comfortable and well-cared for.
Water has been identified as one of the critical items for the future of sustainable agriculture, particularly in the western/southwestern region of the U.S. Sustainable dairies of the future need to be located in areas with ample supply of both water and feeds.
South Dakota as a state offers all these advantages and its part of the reason why between 2012 and 2013 dairy cow numbers in the state increased from 92 to 94 thousand. Total milk produced in the state also grew by 2.8% from 1.97 to 2.02 billion pounds, the seventh largest growth in the country.
Of the top 23 dairy reporting states according to USDA, only Colorado at 3.4% grew more. As of 2013 South Dakota is number 21 in the US in overall milk produced and number 22 in total dairy cows.
However, that’s not enough in today’s fuel-strapped world. First and foremost what is needed is a vibrant local processing industry that minimizes transportation costs and adds value to milk. Several milk processing plants upgrades as well as new start-ups are taking place in the state.
The SDSU Dairy Science Department was deeply involved at various stages of these developments. DAVISCO Foods, an international company that supplies a major portion of Kraft Foods cheese products, started in 2001 their $40 million, 85,000 square foot facility expansion project in its Lake Norden plant.
The Lake Norden Cheese Company as it was named began full production in 2004 encouraging dairy producer’s expansion and relocation. Starting in 2009 Valley Queen Cheese of Milbank, S.D. underwent a two-year expansion project with an 80,000-square-foot warehouse addition and a 12,000-square-foot dryer addition to their current plant.
Bel Brands USA will be a new milk-processing plant addition to the state in 2014.
The company manufactures and markets “The Laughing Cow” cheese wedges and Mini Babybel – America’s #1 branded snacking cheese, as well as Boursin, Merkts, Kaukauna and other natural and gourmet cheese spreads.
The Company will invest approximately $100 million in its new plant on a 48-acre land parcel in Brookings SD. Phase 1 of the project will have a production capacity of approximately 22 million pounds or 10,000 metric tons. The second phase, contingent on anticipated increased market demands, is envisioned to be built in 2016-2017, bringing 200 additional jobs to the area. Dairy Science department Faculty met with Bel Brands officials during the site selection process, aiding in the decision of locating the plant in Brookings, SD.